In this month’s What You Need to Know, we profile information regarding deadline reminders, recent rule amendments, proposed rule amendments, and a recent ethics opinion.
Important CLE compliance reminder
All active Colorado attorneys under age 72 must earn 45 credits, including 7 ethics credits, every three years by the end of the third year. That means roughly one-third of active Colorado attorneys have a compliance deadline coming up in less than two months -- by December 31, 2020. That is quickly approaching! Be sure to check here to confirm you have met or are on your way to meeting this requirement. Programs that already have been accredited can be found here. OARC also offers a free on-line self-assessment that qualifies for CLE credit, which can be accessed here.
New contingent fee rule and form agreement
The Colorado Supreme Court recently adopted Rule Changes 2020(30) and 2020(31), which address contingent fees. Effective January 1, 2021, C.R.C.P. 23.3, governing contingent fees, is repealed and reenacted as amended in Colo. RPC 1.5(c). Amended Rule 1.5 also now includes an amended form Contingent Fee Agreement.
To review amended Rule 1.5, click here. To access a Word version of the form Contingent Fee Agreement, click here.
- With the new amendments, C.R.C.P. 23.3 has been eliminated and relevant provisions regarding contingent fees have been moved to Rule 1.5(c), including the required disclosures for contingent fees.
- The “substantial compliance” requirement for enforceability of a contingent fee agreement remains unchanged. Colo. RPC 1.5(c)(6).
- Among other changes, lawyers must alert clients that if the lawyer wishes to hire a lawyer in another firm to assist with the matter, the lawyer will inform the client of the identity of the associated counsel and that the hiring will not increase the contingent fee unless the client agrees in writing, and further, that the client has the right to disapprove the hiring of associated counsel, and discharge associated counsel if one is hired. Colo. RPC 1.5(c)(1)(viii).
- Comment 6B alerts lawyers that, “A provision in a contingent fee agreement in which the client must reimburse the lawyer for any attorney fees or costs awarded against the lawyer may be improper.”
- Some of the formalistic requirements for the execution of contingent fees have been eliminated.
Proposed changes to admissions rules affecting out-of-state attorneys
The Colorado Supreme Court is considering changes to attorney admissions rules that would affect attorneys licensed elsewhere or who took a uniform bar exam elsewhere who are seeking to be admitted in Colorado. The proposal pertains to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 203.2, 203.3, 203.4, 205.3, 205.4, 205.6, 208.2, and 209.5 , and would, among other things:
- Eliminate the requirement for reciprocity for on-motion applicants as long as they had been admitted through a bar examination in another United States jurisdiction;
- Extend the duration of validity for an MPRE score for all applicants from two years to five years, and allow applicants with 15 years or more of practice time to not have to retake the MPRE to be admitted in Colorado;
- Allow an attorney licensed in another state who has applied for admission in Colorado and been authorized for practice pending admission to appear in state courts or state agencies without having to seek pro hac vice permission if that attorney is employed by a state or local governmental agency or nonprofit legal services provider; and
- Change requirements for applicants who receive their law degree from a foreign school to allow admission based on educational equivalency rather than limiting admission to those who are from English-speaking common law countries.
Written comments should be submitted to Cheryl Stevens, Clerk of the Supreme Court. Comments may be mailed or delivered to 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
and received no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 7, 2020.
ABA Ethics Opinion 494
In late July 2020, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Opinion 494 Conflicts Arising Out of a Lawyer’s Personal Relationship with Opposing Counsel. The Opinion discusses three categories of personal relationships with opposing counsel that might affect the lawyer’s representation of a client, including intimate relationships, friendships and acquaintances. For each category, the Opinion discusses when a lawyer needs to disclose the relationship to the affected client, and whether the lawyer needs to obtain informed consent pursuant to Model Rule 1.7. The Opinion notes that whether disclosure is required, the lawyer may determine to disclose the relationship to maintain good client relations. ABA Formal Opinion 494